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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Mvua, Mvua—Toka! (Rain, Rain, Go Away.)
We woke up at about 5 a.m. this morning to loud and long sounds of thunder...not what you want to hear when you’re looking forward to following chimpanzees. The rain was coming....
One of the ways you find chimpanzees is to listen for them in the forest. But when it’s raining you can’t hear anything, so we were delayed a bit in our efforts this morning while the rain let up. It slowed to a drizzle by about 9 a.m., and we headed out.
The chimpanzees tend to be scattered in small, quiet groups this time of year, so it can be quite difficult to find them. Luckily, shortly after we began walking we heard calls and knew we were in the right direction. After a quick walk uphill, we came upon a group of chimpanzees that included Ferdinand, the reigning alpha male, and Titan, a male that used to torment me when I was a student by throwing rocks at me.
They were hunkered down in the drizzle feeding in a tree, and soon we realized that others were there: Nasa, Golden, Gremlin and her young kids Gimli and GIzmo. Gremlin is my favorite of all the chimpanzees so I was especially glad to see her.
The chimpanzees were quite mellow, quietly feeding and resting in the drizzle, and we spent a wonderful hour with them. After our time was up, we headed back to camp and made it just before another downpour—what a lucky morning!
Gombe Field Diaries
Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute to study and conserve chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking research. Our Gombe field diaries feature updates as scientists monitor chimpanzee health, study ape behavior and experience life in Gombe.
As director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lonsdorf leads Lincoln Park Zoo efforts in Gombe National Park.
Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
An endocrinologist in the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Santymire studies stress and reproduction in Gombe's chipmanzees.
A graduate student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, Matt is studying how levels of play in Gombe¹s chimpanzees influence stress, development and reproductive success.
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